A journey to parenthood: Celebrating the Global Day of Parents

Posted in : Blog
Posted on : May 31, 2024

by Charles Paradis

There are two books that my wife and I like reading with our toddler. They are “Families Grow” by Dan Saks and “All Kinds of Families” by Suzanne Lang. The reason we enjoy these, is that both really break down how unique and different parents and families are across our communities. In Saks’ book, one area that resonates with us as parents in particular is the mention that, “The belly might belong to Mom, but also it may not.  Sometimes another special belly is the perfect spot.” As for Lang’s, we adore the fact that it highlights that parents come in a variety of styles from two dads or one mom, to maybe an aunt or a child’s grandparents. It’s essential to remember that what you may see as a parent for one child is a completely different experience for another.

June 1 is the United Nation’s (UN) Global Day of Parents[i], with 2024 marking the 12th year that the UN has observed this day[ii]. Although the UN’s General Assembly proclaimed this date in 2012, the importance of parenting has been a key topic for them since the 1980s[iii]. At that time, the UN began to stress the importance of family and how this impacts a child’s development and wellbeing[iv]. These ideas were further at the World Summit for Social Development, hosted in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1995[v].

I don’t think these principles are in any way shocking or revelatory to anyone reading this. I do have two questions for you though:

What even is a parent?

In all honesty, I don’t really know. Well, let me rephrase that: I thought I did for a long time, but in recent years that has changed quite a bit for me and my new family.

As a child, I thought family and parents were fairly standard. Two adults, one of which who gave birth to you, maybe some siblings, and a pet or two. In my family, I had two parents, an adopted brother, a biological sister, and at some points goldfish and a few gerbils.

Listing that out is easy to do, but I’ll be honest with you, my family wasn’t always the greatest thing to be a part of. In fact, for some time, my parents were separated, and I lived in an entirely different city with my mother and even spent some time in a women’s shelter. I didn’t see my siblings or father for the better part of a year. I didn’t see my friends either, and I was prepared to potentially hide from any familiar faces in order to remain safe.

It was weird. It left a mark on me. It has certainly shaped who I am. In the end, I hoped to use these negative experiences to create positive ones. I would lean on these to help with the development of my own child, be it dealing with mental health, attachment issues, expressing feelings, or helping them understand that failure isn’t always a bad thing[vii].

Now, that might seem like all doom and gloom at first blush. Of course, it’s not all positive and much of it was painful. Having said that, it also helped shape what I wanted to be when my turn to become a parent came up. I thought becoming a parent would be pretty simple and easy. I mean, the “birds and bees” are pretty straightforward. I wasn’t prepared for how wrong I’d be in that respect.

Becoming a parent

My wife and I have been married for nearly 15 years. We assumed that after the wedding and moving to a new city, things would settle down, and we’d start a family in about a year. We were very, very wrong about that.

We tried.

We tried again.

We tried for 12 years.

My wife suffered miscarriage after miscarriage.

We had no idea that we’d encounter recurring issues around fertility and pregnancy loss[viii].

In 2017, we explored another route: Adoption.

This concept wasn’t completely new to us. My older brother had been adopted, and our nieces were adopted from overseas. A word of caution though: Starting down this path will, once again, in no way guarantee success[ix].

Adoption is lengthy. Adoption is painful at times. It will stress you financially, emotionally, and psychologically. We were in the process for five years.

Finally, we broke.

On July 1, 2022, unbeknownst to each other, we’d given up. Our tanks were empty, and we didn’t feel we could do another year of hoping with no news or result. We were both incredibly sad about it and hadn’t shared it with each other. We were most likely thinking something along the lines of letting our adoption worker know we were done, that we’d remove ourselves from some adoption registries, we’d break the news to our families and, in time, speak with our marriage counsellor about mourning this loss. We’d try to get used to the idea of being the “cool” aunt and uncle who travel a lot.

Growing up, I always assumed I’d be a dad. I never really gave it much thought but coming face-to-face with the reality of that most likely never happening, landed pretty hard.

I needed to be a dad.

In my career, I worked with kids from coast to coast, and I loved it. I guess in a small way, I was a “mini-dad” to some folks in helping them learn and grow.

It wasn’t the same though.

I needed to be a dad.

Being a parent

On July 5, 2022, I woke up to a peculiar email. It was someone reaching out to say that they wanted to contact us earlier but had now gone into labour.

I read that again and again and again.

I called my wife to ask her if she thought this was legitimate.

We called our adoption worker as well, and she confirmed they’d reached out to her as well.

Our son was born.

Instantly, we were parents.

happened next was very much a blur. We were told that he could be home with us in as little as three days. We had very few clothes, some dishes, and some toys for an infant up to a child aged 5 because over the years we had stockpiled and hoped, and even got to the starting line a few times. This time however, it felt like we were running a race, but trying to tie our shoes at the same time.

When you become a parent, you’ll get lots of advice.

I think the most important advice we got was to be kind with ourselves, with each other, and our baby. In all the flurry and stress things did get nuts, and they were absolutely stressful. It was incredibly challenging and at times my wife and I weren’t the most patient with each other. Having said that, we’d always try to circle back, apologize, talk, and create contingency plans.

We weren’t exactly ready for the shock of sleep deprivation or waking at any and all noises, but it did prove a bit silly and fun at times. In one instance, I had barely slept, and our baby was crying. Instead of going the normal route and asking for a soother, I blanked and looked at my wife and said, “Where’s the mouth plug?”

The pandemic caused additional stress as well, with certain baby products being in short supply or sold at abnormally high prices . We’d spend weekends going from store to store looking for infant Tylenol and baby formula. If we were lucky, we’d find it.

Again, sometimes lack of sleep caused folks to chuckle. At one pharmacy, I pitied the poor pharmacist who helped me when I was looking for both infant and adult Tylenol. For some reason, when looking for the infant medication, I chose to gesture with my hands to show how small our child was. Then when it came to ask for the adult medication, for some reason I asked, “And where is the big boy Tylenol?” 

Yes, I was that very big boy and clearly not operating at a 100%.

We’ve laughed about these goofy instances on repeated occasions. And this is what being a parent looks like in my family.

Today, our son is growing, developing language, trying his hand at French, and at this point climbing every piece of furniture he can as if he’s in a parkour tournament.

As parents, we have learned that there is no perfect way to raise your child.

Do it your way. Yes, you might get criticism, but, in reality, the only people you need to please are your immediate family. That’s what matters.

Do we have a home-cooked meal each night? Perfect sleeps? A functioning nursery? A kid who goes to daycare with matching socks everyday?

My goodness, no.

We do however have a healthy, happy, silly child who is growing, who has a massive support network, who will know their biological and adoptive families, and who will only know unconditional love.

Now, that’s a family if you ask me. As for the parents? We’re trying. We try each and every day, and sometimes our toddler is the one steering the ship, but we make it (somehow) to a safe harbour at the end of each day.

I never had illusions that parenting would be easy. It certainly is not, but I feel incredibly lucky even when I’m completely exhausted. So, this year for Global Parents Day, let’s celebrate all of those who have embraced parenthood, in which ever way you have come to it, as we raise all of the wonderful children in our lives .

In the end, whatever being a parent means to you, is a beautiful thing. Going back to Lang’s book, you might be the family seen on page three (two dads), or page six (an aunt as a parent), or even page nine (they have one parent, who is a father). Our little family is the one on page 11, where it mentions some kids are adopted. The parents are two sheep, and the children are wolves. Parenting can be scary at times, but thankfully our little “wolf” is making this wild ride as memorable as can be.

References (click here to review the sources)


Tags CCDI diversity International parents day Global Day of Parents CDNdiversity

Recent Posts

Supporting young professionals in your workplace

A journey to parenthood: Celebrating the Global Day of Parents

International No Diet Day: Ways diet culture manifests in the workplace

Neurodiversity 101: Supporting a neurodiverse workforce

Glottophobia: Let’s talk about language discrimination in Canada (part 2)

International Day of Happiness

Glottophobia: Let’s talk about language discrimination in Canada

Celebrating National Ribbon Skirt Day